On each of these significant days of celebration or commemoration, all national parks will waive entrance fees, although fees for parking and special programming remain intact.
The free admission days in 2020 are:
● Monday, January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
● Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
● Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
● Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day
● Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day
“Across the country, more than 400 national parks preserve significant natural and cultural areas, each one an important piece of our national identity and heritage,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela in a press release. “Free entrance days serve as additional motivation for people to get outside and enjoy these places of inspiration and recreation.”
Since their inception almost 150 years ago, national parks have protected resources and provided places for public health and enjoyment.
With at least one site in every state, the National Park Service’s 419 parks, recreation areas, cultural sites, rivers, and trails are accessible destinations that supply benefits for overall physical and mental well being.
Time spent in nature reduces stress and blood pressure and often leads to lifestyle choices that include more exercise and better nutrition.
Paddling, bicycling, walking, fishing, star gazing, and camping are just some of the many memorable and healthful recreational activities available in national parks.
The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks.
The lifetime pass for seniors is another great deal. Even though the price went up a few years ago, from $10 to $80, it pays for itself in just a few visits, and you have more than 400 choices to visit.
There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, active duty members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.
Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2020 include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
National Parks admission fee increase
In October 2017, the National Park Service announced a proposal to charge higher fees in peak season, as long as five months per year, at 17 of the most beloved parks, to help pay for maintenance to roads, campgrounds, bathrooms and visitor’s centers.
Under the proposal, entry fees would double or more, depending on how you arrive. Fees would jump from $30 to $70 for private cars, from $25 to $50 for motorcycles, and from $15 to $30 for pedestrians or cyclists.
The price of an annual pass remains unchanged, at $80, the same price as the lifetime pass for seniors, which increased in 2018 from $10 to $80.
In addition to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree, other parks proposed for the admission price increase include Glacier, Acadia, Olympic and Rocky Mountain.
The proposed price increase is similar to the surge pricing charged by car services like Uber, and higher rates for airline tickets and hotel rooms in peak travel season.
The 17 parks included in the peak season proposal “are the top revenue parks,” according to the National Park Service.
According to the NY Times, 80 percent of an entrance fee is used in the park where it is collected, and the rest is spent to support other national parks, including those with no admission fee.
Normally, 118 of the 417 national parks in the country charge an entrance fee, while the other 299 national parks do not.
The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks that charge an entrance fee.
In addition to the lifetime senior pass, discounted passes are available for current members of the military, families of fourth grade students, and citizens with disabilities.
Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2018 including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
America’s national parks welcome more than 280 million visitors a year, to world-famous destinations such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, and to national landmarks operated by the National Park Service, including the Statue of Liberty. Or, the moment at Central High School that your child suddenly understands what civil rights are all about.
Importance of America’s national parks to the economy and the environment
They protect and preserve the places we most value, and add enormous economic value to the small towns and family-owned businesses near the parks.
It’s a $30 billion annual benefit to the national economy and supports more than 250,000 jobs, according to the National Park Service.
With more than 84 million acres of spectacular scenery, 17,000 miles of trails, 5,000 miles of shoreline, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, and 100 million museum items and an infinite number of authentic American stories to tell, America’s national parks are true superstars.
Can you name the parks with the highest and lowest elevations, largest waterfall, deepest lake?
- the country’s highest point, in Denali National Park
- and lowest point, in Death Valley National Park
- deepest lake, Crater Lake National Park
- longest cave, Mammoth Cave National Park
- tallest trees, Redwood National Park
- highest waterfall, Yosemite National Park.
What’s your favorite national park?